Balance in all things

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And I guess a picture of the view from an aeroplane window shows just that.  Ask a physicist for a proper explanation, but it’s to do with lift and thrust balancing mass and gravity, resulting in forward motion.  Or something very like that.

Recently I’ve been thinking about health and happiness, and it’s a lot easier to have both if you have balance in your life.  Some of those things people keep saying really are true: balanced diet, balanced budgets, work- life balance … any more? A good golf swing, or ski-jump, perhaps.  It’s the basis of the Tao yin /yang symbol, male/female, light/dark.

But how do you achieve it?  Well, surely you have to start with self awareness.   Most of us need to practise to take a realistic look at ourselves.  Sometimes of course there are massive catastrophes that we can personally do nothing about (I’ve just been watching the news with pictures of the floods in Somerset), but most of the time, for most of us in the UK life is far from catastrophic. In those normal situations it can be very easy to blame outside agencies – the boss, the trains, the government – for the things that are wrong in our lives… but in fact we can all make small adjustments to our lives to move towards balance.

A great place to start is with physical balance – literally focusing on balance. When you practise skills such as tai chi or yoga you have to focus on small internal issues – which muscles you’re using, how you are standing (hip pushed out? Leaning forward?) Emptying your mind, thinking about relaxing and breathing while achieving balance is more challenging than it sounds, and for me it was a big step along the way to understanding myself better.

If you are feeling that you aren’t in control of your own life, why not try something like tai chi or yoga, and see if it starts to help you get more balance.

 

Keep young and beautiful, by all means. But please – keep strong!

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Some of you will recognise these fine strong legs!

And that’s what keeping fit and watching your weight is all about.  Strong legs.

When I practised tai chi, my instructor said that it was impossible to do on “chicken’s legs”: you need sturdy legs to work on.  He also repeated the old (Chinese, I expect) saying that you are as old as your legs, and this is really worth thinking about.  Even standing and walking rather than sitting helps to build up bone density and keep those legs strong and mobile. The weaker your legs are, the older you become before your time.  You begin to settle into a comfortable chair and leave the running around to younger, fitter folk.

Keeping fit is not really about having a six pack, or dropping two dress-sizes, although many people do look better when they are fitter. It is all about being able to pursue your interests and getting out and about to make the most of the word.

The more you are on your feet and moving about, the better.  And of course while you are busy, you are less likely to be eating things you don’t need!  All right – I know it’s not always that easy, and those with knee, hip, back and other health issues can’t always exercise as much as they would like to.  But if you don’t have any excses and the new year’s resolutions are becoming a thing of the past, just remember that sticking to a ‘keeping fitter’ regime is in your best interests.  Whether it’s cycling to work, competitive sports, swimming, the gym, pilates, yoga, tai chi … , find something you like doing and do it!